Monday, 29 October 2012

Plum and Pomegranate Upside Down Cake

I am currently situated in a gorgeous kitchen, overlooking mountains, pomegranate fields and a beautiful private pool ... mmmm villa holidays are wonderful. 

My boyfriend and I, are in Turkey on holiday with my family (I know, a wonderful form of mild torture/pleasure which he is being subjected too ... going well so far, mostly he is having fun creating havoc with my younger brothers and drinking beer... seems like a good way to go I guess).   However, my Dad just can't cope without cake in his life, and well, none of us veer that far from this same point if view, so to speak,  ourselves.  So I had a first experiment using the facilities here to make a cake.

Along with the jeopardy of an unknown oven, there was the added issues created by my complete ignorance regarding Turkish language, and some differences in ingredient availability.  Luckily, we have wonderful hosts, who have helped me out massively by telling me about these things, and writing down "baking powder" in Turkish (as there is no self-raising flour here), and explained that instead of vanilla essence, I will have to use vanilla sugar.

My ingredients looked a little unfathomable to me, but I think I worked it out!  (Turns out, I may have used a yeasted raising agent, but we will gloss over that ...)

It turns out that it is pomegranate harvesting time here, oh what a happy coincidence!  And the couple who own the villa have stocked us up with some pomegranates which they have been given by the farmer owning the fields surrounding the villa.  I kid you not, some of these pomegranates rival my head for the largest spherical object in the house!  They are beautiful, and so fresh.  Of course I couldn't waste this opportunity, so along with some fresh local plums, I thought ... upside down cake!!!

I haven't previously made an upside down cake, so I had a quick google search and looked around at recipes for general guidance, then went ahead and made it up as I went along.  I put melted butter and sugar in the tin then laid out the fruit elegantly, and made a sponge mix, which was then placed over the top.

The cake was then baked, which took longer than I had anticipated (about an hour total), but with the aid of some interesting foil backed with some kind of brown paper (I have no idea what this is?? But it seemed to work ok as a non stick lining, having gotten this one completely wrong, thinking it was normal baking paper), I managed to get there in the end.  The cake rose well (phew) and tasted rather pleasant indeed!  I can certainly recommend pomegranate with plum as a combination, and doesn't it just look sooo appetising!  

Mmmmmmmm cake.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Peppa Pig Cake

Hooray I got to get back to some novelty caking with this one.  A cake I made for a lady at work, for her Grandaughter's 3rd birthday.  It was quite time intensive, but I think it was worth the end result.  There are a few bits I would certainly like to have improved and would like to work on. But overall a hit!

I made two large rectangular vanilla victoria sandwich type sponges. Cut the edges off of one to get a really neat rectangle.  The second one I cut into a 3.  They were then covered with a thin layer of buttercream, which was smoothed to within an inch of it's life!  I made the edges as sharp as I could possibly manage.  I don't think I have ever spent so much time on buttercream!  But I can tell you, it was well worth it!

I left these in sealed containers overnight for the buttercream to get a bit more solid and form a good foundation over which to lay the fondant.

The following day I did all of the decorating ...

I started out by covering both of the sponges separately with a layer of rolled out green fondant.  This took a little while to get right, as I had to cut extra strips and patch together the fondant around the 3 quite a bit, but again, it was well worth taking the extra time and care for a better end result.  And the bits where it went really wrong and I failed to rescue ...  I covered with decorative sugar flowers and fondant mud puddles etc!

The flowers were bought ready made in a small packet, but the remaining decorations (mud puddles, lake and ducks, Peppa and George) were all made with fondant, rolled and cut or moulded into shape.

I attached everything using royal icing, and iced the lettering of the birthday message in the same. 

I have had some really lovely compliments for this one, and I am quite proud of it.  It was really nice to have a good excuse to make a good novelty cake! and I am looking forward to my next cake creating adventure now.

Thanks for reading.

Two Tier Red and Gold Birthday Cake

This one was made at about the same time as I made the Two Tier White Chocolate Ganache, Swirls and Chocolate Roses for my Auntie.  The two cakes were based on a similar concept, both using the tiers and chocolate roses, but with a very different colour scheme and some slight alterations between the two to make two very unique cakes.

This one was for a friend who turned the big 4 oh recently, I was told, "probably something in red and gold" by her husband (yes men are always helpful when you ask them for their advice), lucky I have some creativity in my blood, so I went with that and ran....

This was so much fun to make!  I made the same sponges as in the white chocolate ganache, green swirly cake, and also used white chocolate ganache to sandwhich the sponges, and coat the two tiers.  However this time I dyed the ganache the beautiful deep red colour you see in the pictures.

I also made an army of red-dyed white chocolate roses to decorate.

The swirls on the body of the cake are made with sugar glitter dust mixed with a dribble of vodka to make it into a paint, which I then used a paintbrush to swirl onto the cake tiers.

I dusted the edges of the red white chocolate roses with the glitter also, to make them look gold edged.  Finally I made some little balls out of the red chocolate, and dusted these with gold too.  

Once I had put all the pieces together this was the result. 

My friend loved her birthday cake, and her 5 year old daughter I think, loved it even more! 

Brilliant :) 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Chocolate Extravaganza!

My car smelled sooooooo good when I bought this one in to work the other day!

I was asked to make a very chocolatey cake, for a friend at work's chocoholic husband.  I was informed that anything cadbury, buttons, flakes, twirls etc were favourites, along with maltesers etc.

We-ell.  I thought about what I could do to make something really special, and whilst super-chocolately, still a good manly cake. .....


This chocostrocity is what I came up with.  A two tiered triple choclate chip sponge cake, coated with chocolate fudge icing, followed by chocolate ganache icing, and decorated around the sides with some very chunky chocolate shards (I made these using tempered cadburys dairy milk, and fought my boyfriend off with a few spatula slaps to the hand as he tried to steal bits) stuck to the cake using more chocolate ganache.

The cake was then topped with various cadbury goodies and maltesers, and I dusted with a little gold sugar glitter to finish it up.

I really wish I had made this one and eaten it all myself!!!  But apparently it was enjoyed ... I just might have to do another one all for me .....

Princess Cupcakes

Oh dear I am getting a bit behind!  I made these about a month or so ago for my boyfriend's, brother's girlfriend (phew!) for her birthday.

I stumbled across these brilliant cupcake wrappers when I was having a bit of a pinterest day, on Food Art Party Blog, along with instructions on how to get them the right size etc. and they were just the perfect thing for her.

Sooo, I started out by making some chocolate truffle centred cupcakes. Mmmmmmm chocolate.  I used a recipe from the Waitrose website which I have used previously
Waitrose chocolate truffle filled cupcake recipe click here!

Having baked, then printed up, and spent a considerable amount of time cutting out, the cupcake wrappers, I put the two together.

I decorated all cupcakes with some very thick white chocolate fudge icing, which I dyed a lovely princess pink (see my post X-box 360 cake for the recipe for my white chocolate fudge icing).  Which I piped into rosettes on top of the cakes (there are loads of youtube video tutorials available to help you do this if you are fancying doing something different).  This is kind of, my current favourite thing to practice!

I added white sanding sugar and sugar pearls to the cakes wrapped with the pink princess wrappers, and pink sanding sugar and pearls to the cakes in the purple and pink swirly cupcake wrappers.

Ta da, gives them a little extra something, without overdoing it I think. 

Then of course out came the trusty cupcake stand for presentation. 

They were very well received and very fun to make, without being too tricky.  Though the crown shaped wrappers did have me in quite a frustrated state as I tried to ever so carefully manoeuvre around them!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Two Tier White Chocolate Ganache, Swirls and Chocolate Roses

My Auntie's birthday cake.  

I made a big batch of summer berries and cream sponges.  (Two 8 inch circular sanwhiches, and two 6 inch circular sandwhiches).  I used white chocolate ganache to stick the sponges together and coated each tier, using a warm palette knife to get a nice even finish.

The swirls were made with green dyed royal icing.  

I made the milk and dark chocolate roses by hand, but you can buy these ready made. 

Put it all together, and ta da you get a lovely tiered fancy-pants cake!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Little Cupcake Tower


Oh how I love an excuse to make cupcakes! 
Birthdays are a brilliant one.
It was a friend at work's quite recently, and she specifically requested a selection of cupcakes.
And so that is what she got :)
 Using the rather swanky cupcake tree my Mum bought me for christmas a few years ago to sit them on, I created a nice little display for her, and added a matching card.

I selected Red Velvet, with cream cheese icing and a sprinkling of red sanding sugar...

...Strawberries and cream, with vanilla buttercream.  I topped these with the lovely sugar hearts pictured on the left...

...and coffee with coffee buttercream, topped with some pink sanding sugar, and pink sugar pearls. 

Another good bit of practice on the rosettes on top of my cupcakes went in here, and they went soooo much better this time than my first attempt previously (there wasn't 3 inches of icing per cake where I had gone wrong and gone over the top for starters!)

Ta da, what a lovely looking tower! (It has cake on it, thus the definition of lovely is fulfilled).

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Hen Night Naughty Cupcakes

As mentioned in a recent, previous post, my best friend from school is getting married this year.  Her hen do was last week, and, well, as with any other opportunity, this one was made the most of, for cake making possibilities!

I did some research and looked around the internet for some good ideas for hen night decorated cupcakes.  I started by deciding to make these my first attempt at decorating cakes with piped rosettes.  Then putting a number of hen themed toppers onto the cupcakes.

I thought it would be a wise idea to test out making the rosettes before making the final versions.  My boyfriend liked this step, as he got about 8 cupcakes out of it (as a bridesmaid, I have been trying very hard to remain the same for my dress, which means not too many cakes for me in the last few weeks!).  The result in decorative terms however, was not quite so great a move forward.  The word disaster could certainly be applied!  As I watched the icing ooze over the edges of the cakes and refuse to hold the rosette shape, I concluded that in my first attempt the icing was far too runny, and learned that I would definitely have to improve upon that when decorating the real thing.

I chose a red and black theme (with a few additional toppers having a few other colours for specific reasons) and made all of the fondant toppers, decorated with glitter and royal icing, over the course of the weekend before I made the cakes, to give them plenty of drying time.

Charlie is a coeliac, so that was then the next little hurdle to overcome.  Soooo, having made the gluten free toppers, I moved on to making my red velvet cupcake recipe gluten free.  Thank goodness there are now quite a good range of such flours available!  It was nice and simple, and I just had to be very careful to check all the ingredients and nutritional warning bits on the other ingredients. And of course, most importantly, I only used unopened brand new packets, so that I could be 100% certain that I had no contamination from previously using a spoon that might have gone near gluten or such, which would have been a massive oversight.

Once the cakes were made and cooled, I then had a fun time practicing the cream cheese rosette swirled icing on plates.... they did NOT go well for quite some time.  And once I finally thought I had got it ... I hadn't, if you were to look at a side profile of some of the red iced cakes, there is the same height of icing as cake on most of them, where I messed up comepletely the first attempt, and re-iced over the top.  But, who doesn't love icing?!

Having finally sorted out the icing too my satisfaction, I then simply placed the pre-made toppers, decorated with a little bit of coloured royal icing where relevant (e.g. the handcuff links and between the chain part of the ball and), then sprinkled with some red love hearts, which I already had, and happily were made with rice flour, so posed no problems! 

Et voila ....
A beautiful, bountiful box of naughty treats and goodies to be enjoyed with tea/coffee/champagne (delete as you feel appropriate) over the course of an amazing hen mid-week-weekend.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Little Bit of Fun

I went home to visit my Mum and Dad, and get fitted for my bridesmaids dress (my best friend from school is getting married, and awesome, yet terrifying experience to come this year) a couple of weeks back. My Mum was in need of making some sweet treats of a cakey variety to take on a picnic with some friends.

My Mum is an amazing baker, and makes brilliant cakes herself, however she is also a perpetually busy person, with four boys (ok one is a dog, but he still counts) to be looked after in the house, so .... one daughter to the rescue! (Actually I totally stole this task out from under her nose and ran off to find baking ingredients before she could stop me).

Ta da ....

I created some little cupcakes, in four flavours (you've got to cater to all tastes after all!) - Lemon and orange, Chocolate, Vanilla and strawberry and Coffee.

I then got busy with play time and rummaged around for some decorating items. I found (ahem my Mum found and gave me) a plastic bag filled to the brim with goodies that she has collected  ... my Mum is a little like a magpie at times, not stealing things, but she does have a habit of buying shiny and pretty things, the majority of which then quite often sit in cupboards and drawers for up to  5 years after their expiry date because she has bought too many to use up in that time (but then I can hardly talk, if anything I am so very much worse for the very same habit).

Getting back to the bag of goodies.  There were all sorts in there, silver hearts, all sorts of dragees, chocolate beans, an exploded container of pink sanding sugar ...

I chose a minimal (ish) approach and selected a few fun items to jazz up each of my cake flavours.

The Lemon and orange sponges are topped with icing sugar mixed with lemon juice, then sprinkled with citrus flavour strands.

The Chocolate sponge, was topped with chocolate buttercream, and each one then with an upside down raspberry.

Vanilla and Strawberry cakes were topped with vanilla buttercream and a little trio of fruit.

Finally the coffee cakes were topped with coffee buttercream and some golden sugar pearls.

Lots of fun to decorate and nice selection to choose from. :)

They went down well I am told, and I had fun making them, so that is all the important boxes ticked!

Thanks for looking :)

Friday, 20 July 2012

Bioblitz 2012

The 7th and 8th of July this year was the 2012 Bioblitz held at Cawsand Bay in Cornwall. 

In my workplace this is a very exciting event for all where we get as many experts and members of the [ublic as we can to come along during the 24 hours, and find as many different species as they can, within the area.

I attended the full 24 hours, and with a nice solid 1 and a half hours worth of sleep, had a brilliant time!

It shows how busy I have been since though, as I made these little treats for all of the hard working, very sleep deprived staff at the event, and have only now managed to pop them up here for all to see!  I made 50 in total, yummy vanilla sponge with lovely vanilla buttercream and a little glace icing to write with.  The sugar kick definitely helped us data monkeys to get through our entry during the day!

Vanilla Sponge with Simple Strawberry and Rose Decorations

This rather posh looking cake, was a request for a birthday cake, for someone who isn't big on many flavours of cake (apparently including chocolate??!!  How can you not like chocolate cake? This baffles me).  So... this cake started out life, as a plain and simple, vanilla victoria sponge cake.

I sandwhiched the two layers together with some posh raspberry jam, and some vanilla buttercream.  Then I iced over the top with more vanilla buttercream.  I used warmed knives (stood in a mug of boiled water and wiped dry on kitchen towel or a clean tea towel) to smooth out the icing, and get the edges lovely and straight.

After leaving for approximately 20 minutes to get the icing firmed up a bit, I then took some ready made chocolate roses, and stuck them on with blobs of vanilla buttercream.  Then did the same to stick some strawberries in between.  I added 5 extra roses around the plate for a little something extra.

Wonderfully simple.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Coffee Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

I am sooo pleased with how this very decadent little spread of cupcakes turned out!

This was a really succesful, pretty quick and easy way to decorate my cupcakes beautifully.

I really like the dark brown cupcake cases, they just look so much more glamorous and elegant than plain white ones. 

I made up a batch of coffee flavour cupcakes, topped with swirled coffee buttercream (using a piping bag with a serrated-end nozzle, and decorated with white chocolate roses, white sanding sugar, and white sugar pearls. 

For the cakes with chocolate rose buds on top, I piped on the bootom layer of icing, placed the roses, and sprinkled with sanding sugar (sugar glitter) and pearls then left the icing to dry and harden up a little on the outside (about 30 minutes).  Then I swirled more icing on top and around the rose bud to neatly hide the (slightly messy) bottom of the bud from view, and make the icing nice and neat (I just know that if I had put the roses into the finished icing I would have ended up blobbing it everywhere and making a mighty mess!).  I then sprinkled again with sanding sugar and added more white sugar pearls where I wanted them.

The cakes are sitting on a clear acrylic circular board which comes from a 7 tier acrylic cupcake-stand.  As seen in my treaty towers post.  I placed chocolate roses around the cupcakes then sprinkled over with more sanding sugar and pearls. 

In this instance I only needed a small number of cakes, but I could easily have run with this theme up all 7 tiers of my cupcake tower.

This was a really easy way to decorate a set of cupcakes!  I made my own chocolate roses, which was quite time consuming, but if you don't have the time these can be bought ready made. 

I'm quite looking forward to making a variation of something like this with a bit of red and green for christmas, and maybe poinsettia flowers instead of roses  (6 months early I know, but it's impossible to be TOO excited about Christmas! ... Though some parents may share a difference of opinion on this one).

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Treaty Towers

Mmmmmmm check out this tower of goodies!!

Rather than a smaller, fiddlier or more time consuming project, for my boyfriend's brother, I thought I would go large quantity of super tasty treats.  A good choice as it turned out.

I made a variety of treats: Red velvet cupcakes, chocolate and walnut brownies, millionaire's shortbread, chocolate peanut butter swirly cookies and maple and pecan flapjack.

The stand pictured is designed for birthday/wedding cupcake towers, and was a brilliant way to get a huge amount of baked treats out and on display all at once.  I got mine on ebay last week, but they are also available from wedding cake companies etc.  I totally should have thought to count how many items I managed to get up there, what an oversight.

After a fantastic buffet style meal made by my boyfriend's Mum, we all swarmed on the cakes with gusto, and are all happily enjoying the left overs still 


I love cake!

Friday, 22 June 2012

A Different Kind of Cupcake

Not  my usual kind of cupcake creation, but I thought I would share this one anyway!

Crochet is a relatively new hobby for me, one which I was introduced to by a friend who is fantastic at creating all sorts of things, just take a look at her crochet coral paradise on my crochet coral reef cake post.

With my love of all things cake, once I had stumbled on a pattern to make crochet cupcakes I knew it was only a matter of time (I  found this pattern yesteday, I made half of it last night, and got up at 6:30 am to finish it before work this morning.... dedication bordering on obsession) before I was making some.  

Although I had a bit of a false start with this - somehow finding myself with 50 odd stitches when I was supposed to have 27 - once I had turned the TV off, and the light on, my second attempt went just fine.  I would definitely recommend actually counting stitches as you go, if you are as new to this as I am!

I made this as part of a slightly larger project (to follow...) but it is so cute on it's own that I wanted to put it up whilst I am waiting on photos of the full cake and crochet ensemble.

I am enjoying my new hobby, it is a lovely sociable thing to do (well it is in our office, where we have had a lunch time crochet club started), and a good way to keep your hands busy and productive whilst chatting, or watching TV etc.  Well usually that is, evidently that didn't work out for the above!  But, I am in the middle of making a bag at the moment, using some very thick wool, which means it has whacking great stitches that I can't miss!

I hope my post brings inspiration to any closet creative people, or a bit of interest for anyone else looking for something fun to make.  Thanks for reading.

Crochet Coral Reef Cake

Not one of mine, but this wonderful cake had to be shared.

My friend Esther is incredible with a crochet hook, this is the awesome Coral reef cake she made for our friend Coral (see what she did there!? hehe) for her birthday. 

I am still reeling from the creative genius of this!  (The extended reeling period may partially be because I am such a marine geek).

The cake itself was carrot cake, with a lovely cream cheese frosting on top.  This was sprinked with cinamon, and the crochet coral decorations were placed using cocktail sticks.  The starfish are from a haribo funny mix. 

I love it!

Stuart McGhee's Bizimals

I have a good friend at work, who is part time in my office, and spends the remainder of the time being creative for a living.  (As opposed to me who is creative apparently only for make people fat through frequent cake feedings).

His work is brilliant, and I am exceptionally jealous of the ability to put a pen on paper, and not come up with something which could be mistaken for part of a Rorscharch test.  

His birthday was last week, and of course I thought, well why not recreate his drawings on cake!  A seemingly great idea, but when you pay attention to the Rorscharch remark, you will see where this was perhaps a foolish move.  In order for me to complete this task, each cupcake took approximately 4 hours to complete... Not particularly economic on the time front then.

Stuart McGhee's original work can be seen on his website at or on deviant art at the drawing which inspired my creations are his Bizimal collection ....

And after some painstaking, tracing and painting onto fondant circles, using various food colourings, sometimes mixed with a teeny bit of vodka to thin, here are my reproductions in cake form ...